A Community-based Approach to Conservation
Citizen Science, also known as Community Science, is the involvement of the general public in collecting and recording data and observations for scientific purposes. Citizen scientists volunteer their time to these activities, in the process reducing the burden on scientists. The data and observations can then go on to inform important conservation activities, initiatives, and even policy! In recent years, technologies like iNaturalist, a free app you can download to your phone, have made the undertaking of citizen science much easier, faster, and user-friendly, so you don't need a ton of time or training to take part!
Because citizen science gets people out in nature, it is closely tied to nature-connectedness, or the ability to spend more time in and foster closer ties to our natural world.
About Citizen Science
Collecting data and making observations can be a time-consuming and expensive undertaking for only one or a handful of scientists. That's why the assistance of everyday citizens (ie. the public) in the process can be extremely impactful for conservation efforts.
Many organizations, having realized the value that citizen science adds, now offer extensive training across various conservation initiatives. Technologies like iNaturalist offer further support. Because of this, you don't need to have any previous experience or a scientific background to get started. Additionally, since these programs and technologies are typically free, there is little to no cost beyond your time to get started, and you can spend as little or as much time as you are able to allocate!
Humans & The Natural World
Nature is essential to our health as humans. Time in nature has been shown not only to have positive effects on our physical health but it has also been shown to support our mental health as well. Practicing nature-connectedness requires you to step fully into nature, engaging with it through all of your senses without any distractions.
Nature connectedness can be as simple as taking a walk, heading off to bird watch, or heading out in a canoe. It can also involve more intensive activities like helping to renaturalize an area through planting activities. Because citizen science requires you to spend time in nature collecting data and making observations, citizen science is a great practice in nature-connectedness! In this way, citizen science not only contributes invaluable knowledge to the scientific community to support wildlife management, conservation and recovery, it can also benefit your physical and mental health through nature-connectedness!
Citizen Science & Nature-connectedness & The Blue Lakes Program
One of the Performance Areas that participants can set goals and actions under within the Blue Lakes Program surrounds citizen science and nature-connectedness. Participants may elect to work under this Performance Area if they like to spend time outdoors, have a keen interest in adding value to the scientific field of conservation, or are looking to boost their physical or mental health. Example actions participants can take within the Citizen Science & Nature-connectedness Performance Area include:
- Practicing bird watching and identification
- Participating in a dedicated citizen science program through the Blue Lakes Program or its founding charity, The Land Between
- Participating in the Blue Lakes Angler diaries app
- Participating in the Lake Partner Program to monitoring water quality
The Blue Lakes Program and its founding charity, The Land Between, have a number of citizen science programs for Blue Lakes Participants electing to participate in the Citizen Science & Nature-connectedness Performance Area. These programs, however, are open to anyone wishing to get involved in citizen science programming, so we welcome all to take a look at the programs we offer below!